There are unwritten codes of conduct for etiquette in public restrooms. Knowing them could save embarrassment and will certainly make sharing a public restroom easier for others. Keep in mind that there are different kinds of public restrooms—such as office restrooms and public rest stops—and the specific location effects the etiquette. A general rule of thumb is to always at least clean up your own mess.
You should be efficient when using a public restroom or public stall, as there may be others waiting who desperately need to use it. This is more an issue when using a single stall restroom, so if you need extra time is to fix your makeup or admire the reflection in the mirror, make sure that there isn't a line forming outside the door.
Treat the public restroom even better than the one at your home. At home, it may be your practice to save water and not flush every time. In a public restroom, flushing every time is considerate. If you make a mess, use every effort to clean it up. The restroom should be left in as good as or better condition after your use than it was before you entered. Always wash your hands with soap after conducting your business.
Avoid socializing in public restrooms. Speak only when spoken to, talking to a person who is doing personal business may make them very uncomfortable, especially if they are a stranger. The restroom is not a place to chat; that can be done outside.
At the Office
Use extra care in an office washroom. Your professional reputation may be linked to your washroom etiquette, so just assume that everyone in the office will hear about your code of restroom conduct. Imagine leaving urine on the toilet seat or toilet paper everywhere and opening the stall only to find your boss waiting to use it. Also, keep business out of the restroom, even if a colleague wishes to talk business suggest that the conversation be moved elsewhere.
In urinals, keep your eyes up and ahead and avoid looking around as a mistaken glance in the wrong direction may be embarrassing and might even result in a confrontation. Also, keep as much distance between yourself and others in public restrooms. Always choose the urinal farthest away from other people if possible; this goes for stalls too.
Keeping some air freshener or deodorizer handy when using a public restroom can be handy not only for the odors you may create but also for those left behind by others. Leaving a pleasant smell in the restroom can help avoid embarrassment and create a better restroom environment for others.
Restroom noises are sometimes hard to avoid and can be embarrassing. Turning on the tap or fan or running the automated hand drier can help mask them.
- Women's Health Magazine: The WH Bathroom Etiquette Guide
- Ask Men: How To: Practice Bathroom Etiquette
- "Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work"; Jacqueline Whitmore; 2005
- Public Restroom image by TekinT from Fotolia.com